Companies are increasingly shying away from manual processes and are more frequently adopting warehouse inventory management software and other automated tracking systems, according to Modern Materials Handling's 2013 Software Usage Survey.

The poll, conducted by Peerless Research Group, found that 43 percent of industry insiders surveyed said that they were relying more heavily on advanced warehouse management systems now than in past years. In addition, 18 percent said they will be purchasing new software solutions in the coming months, and 17 percent indicated that upgrades to existing tracking and management systems are on the way.

In regard to the types of warehouse inventory management software being implemented, the research discovered that 57 percent of respondents used warehouse management software, while 31 percent utilized warehouse control systems and 14 percent had slotting software solutions in place. However, 36 percent said they plan on looking further into WMS over the next 24 months, 21 percent are interested in WCS implementations and 11 percent will be doing more research on slotting software solutions.

Reasons for the rising adoption rates
The survey's respondents listed a variety of reasons for why their organization was looking further into various warehouse inventory management software solutions. Among those polled, 58 percent wanted more oversight over inventory and 61 percent were looking to improve their demand planning strategies. Time tracker software applications were also frequently cited as reasons for adopting warehouse management solutions, as 52 percent have or want to adopt a worker payment program for improving employee productivity.

However, while companies are adopting these solutions with greater frequency, many enterprises may not be realizing a quality return on investment from their warehouse data collection initiatives. Between 30 percent and 40 percent of poll respondents said they either did not know the ROI or that it was negative. Among those that tracked their investment, typically the average firm needed 13 months to realize positive gains from new solutions. In addition, 29 percent expressed doubt as to whether such systems could yield quality results, as 43 percent did not think a new system could be successfully integrated with legacy solutions.

Although these ROI-related results may cause some firms to doubt the efficacy of warehouse inventory management software solutions, Modern Materials Handling reported that many survey respondents probably either failed to properly plan for the implementation of the new system or entrusted partners that were incapable of living up to expectations.

"It seems many who have not seen a return on investment from their software implementations might not have done due diligence in creating upfront justifications and objectives," said St. Onge director John Hill, according to the news source. "Those who have succeeded have benefited from the convergence of information systems, as businesses recognize the value of a holistic view of supply chain management."

By making the proper calculations before looking into the solutions available and by partnering with a trusted consultant, companies can more fully benefit from their warehouse control systems and achieve a positive ROI in less time.

For more information on improving efficiency with technology, download the free white paper entitled "Keeping the Physical World and the Virtual World in Sync" from DMS today.